Reopening High Streets Safely Fund: government issues guidance for local authorities

28 May 2020

On 24 May 2020 the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) issued guidance entitled “Reopening High Streets Safely Fund” to help local authorities and partners to deliver activities supported through the new Reopening High Streets Safely Fund.

The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund is providing £50 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to councils across England to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas.

In addition to details of the activities that can be supported through the Fund, the guidance includes an overview of how the Fund will be administered, and the ERDF contractual requirements.

The aim of the Fund is to provide additional funding for councils to support their business communities with measures to ensure safe trading in public such as high streets, helping businesses to reopen with minimum risk to their customers. The guidance makes it clear that as well as high streets the Fund will cover other public places that are at the heart of towns and cities so that they can reopen as safe public spaces.

The guidance outlines the four main strands of activities the Fund can support:

  • support to develop an action plan for how the local authority may begin to safely reopen their local economies
  • communications and public information activity to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely
  • business-facing awareness raising activities to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely
  • temporary public realm changes to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely.

There is a minimum grant value of £30k and grants will be awarded to local authorities on the basis of their population through Grant Funding Agreements between each local authority and the Cities and Local Growth Unit (CLGU). Local authorities will be able to spend money on eligible activities from 1 June 2020 and grant awards will be available to access up until the end of March 2021. The guidance encourages use of the funding by the end of this year to address immediate needs in 2020.

Note that any procurement or grants made by a local authority using the money from the Fund should still comply with Public Procurement Regulations and State Aid law respectively.

Birketts has a specialist Public Sector Team and works extensively with local authorities and their partners. For further information regarding the above, please contact Siobhan Collis or another member of the Public Sector Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2020.